by Johan Boeder in The Netherlands. Earlier versions of this article have been published in the Dutch press and Defense-Aerospace. DID has worked with the author to create an edited, updated version with full documentation of sources.
On May 3, 2007, during the 19th test flight of the prototype of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a serious electrical malfunction occurred in the control of the plane. After an emergency landing the malfunction could be identified as a crucial problem, and it became clear that redesign of critical electronic components was necessary. Producer Lockheed Martin and program officials first announced there was a minor problem, and later on they avoided any further publicity about the problems.
The delay has become serious, however, and rising costs for the JSF program seem to be certain. In Holland, Parliament started a discussion again last week. Understanding the background behind these delays, and the pressures on European governments, is important to any realistic assessment of the F-35’s European strategy – and of the procurement plans in many European defense ministries…
Small business qualifier Southern Counties Oil Co., doing business as SC Fuels in Orange, CA won a $7 million modification to a fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for biodiesel fuel on behalf of the US Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There were 28 proposals originally solicited with 21 responses, and the date of performance completion is Aug 31/09. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, VA issued the contract (SP0600-06-D-4528).
SC Fuels has already worked with Disneyland [PDF] and Safeway grocery stores on biodiesel projects. Most forms of biodiesel fuel actually end up requiring more energy inputs to produce and refine than they produce as outputs, which makes them very dubious replacements for fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the US military is running a number of experiments and solicitations involving biodiesel and synthetic blends in its aircraft and vehicles, in case strategic issues or improved production techniques make some level of biodiesel replacement an intelligent option in future. In situations where future uncertainty is high, a strategy of placing a diverse array of low-priced options on various possibilities, with follow-on investment as circumstances dictate, is a standard recommendation.